INDEPENDENCE, incorporated as a village in 1914, approved a municipal charter in Nov. 1958, and became a city in Nov. 1960. It is a residential and industrial suburb located about 8 miles south of Cleveland. Covering approx. 10 sq. mi., it is bounded on the north by BROOKLYN HTS., on the east by the CUYAHOGA RIVER and VALLEY VIEW, on the west by SEVEN HILLS, and on the south by BRECKSVILLE. The origins of Independence are unknown, because the early township records were destroyed. The population was 354 in 1820. The character of the township changed when the Cleveland-Akron section of the OHIO & ERIE CANAL opened in 1827; the population fell to 245 in 1830. Independence used the canal to transport produce and dairy products (see AGRICULTURE) to markets in Newburgh and Cleveland. In the 1840s, many skilled stonecutters—GERMANS, IRISH, and Scots—were attracted by the commercial quarrying of sandstone and shale. By 1850, with the 1,485 residents, Independence was one of the nation's foremost suppliers of building stone. In 1880 the population was 1,993, and the Valley Railroad (later part of the Baltimore & Ohio system) came through the town. The quarries closed late in the century because of several factors, including competition from larger Berea sandstone companies and the introduction of concrete as a building material.
In 1896 Independence Twp. east of the Cuyahoga River was annexed by Newburgh. The section of the township remaining to the west after Independence incorporated became the village of Seven Hills in 1927. The population of Independence in 1920 was 1,075. With the advent of the automobile and construction of highways, Independence became industrialized. The Willow Cloverleaf at Brecksville and Granger roads, completed in 1940, was one of the first highway interchanges in the country. New businesses included the REPUBLIC STEEL CORP. Research Center, Goodrich, the Gulf Chemical Co., the Sperry-Univac Co., and the DAVY MCKEE CORP. During the 1970s, new streets and homes were constructed; population grew to 7,034 in 1970, dropped to 6,500 in 1990, and increased again to 7,109 in 2000. Recreational facilities include Elmwood Park and a portion of the CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK. Four churches, St. Michael's Roman Catholic (1851), Concordia Lutheran, Independence Presbyterian (1855), and Independence United Methodist (1862), served the community in the 1980s. The city was also home to a branch of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM.
See also SUBURBS.